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How to Be Yourself On Teaching Tube TV.

Another chapter in my creative Edupreneur series

Every once in a while, I emerge from my nerding cave to get a whiff of what my colleagues are up to online. There is never a dull moment. These days it’s particularly exciting. I say ‘nerding cave’, because I am at heart, a reader, writer and researcher, as well as teacher. I write content, blog, plan. I am also writing ebooks and making my way into publishing.

All of this is great, but what about the showmanship, sharing, and great social clout of teaching on YouTube? Perhaps in future I will follow the footsteps of some of my amazing colleagues who embraced YouTube from the start – right now, I’m happy to observe and describe their YouTube exploits.

Who are ESLebrities when they’re at home?

They are teachers just like you and I who have embraced the web to share their passions. I have come to associate with many passionate teachers in my personal learning network, and the most inspiring thing I can tell you about them is that they are modest, yet enamoured with the power of sharing and learning. I have observed that the most successful people in my network are just ‘normal people’ but they have integrity, a natural charm and a great work ethic. Of course there is talent and intelligence too. – but, as we know, talent can be nurtured. That’s what this article is about.

The X-factor.

From my observations, experiments and associations, all I can say is that the X-factor seems to lie in a mixture of dedication, authenticity and passion for the cause. I’m going to feature some YouTube teachers today, and explore what kind of universal appeal leads to their success. I’m doing this for one reason. If you are over-awed by statistics, viewing, exposure, publicity and the popularity of major you tube personalities in teaching, you may feel that it’s an exclusive club.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not. YouTube is available to all of us. If you want to teach online or make a name, YouTube is a powerful avenue to take. But the most important thing you need is the right attitude. After that comes commitment and staying power. I’ll let my featured YouTube stars tell you more.

I’ll start by briefly mentioning two amazing showmen, Fluency MC and Mau Buchler. They are two professionals I like to follow and I have interviewed and featured both of them on more than one occasion. You can find some coverage of Mau and Jason here, and another recent interview with Jason R. Levine here on OpenLanguage, a major e-learning platform. I also have an exclusive scoop on Mau to be published on Fair languages within the next month.

Kirsten Winkler

As a pioneering Edupreneur, Kirsten has a huge following on YouTube. For those of us who know Kirsten Winkler online, it’s obvious how much of her vision and passion she puts into video-making. DeutschHappen is Kirsten’s channel for teaching German. Her short video lessons work in tandem with lesson plans on her website of the same name. Kirsten has a very professional voice on YouTube, matching the quality of those we see on TV.

I don’t speak German at all, so I found it wonderful that I could follow her video lessons despite that. I watched some of her basic level videos, and a more advanced one about the rain. Being Irish I couldn’t resist a lesson about the many words for rain and muddy boot or wellies. I loved listening to her voice and following the subtitles for key words. The lessons are perfectly pitched for a YouTube audience. Complex language chunks are presented simply and clearly. Her outdoor lessons give a sense of fun spontaneity without impinging on the quality of the lesson. It’s hardly surprising that her following is so great, as the videos are ultra-professional, personable and information-rich.

Here is Kirsten’s heavy-weight tip.

“Already today the quality of video content on YouTube is light-years ahead compared to the days when I started uploading videos. People expect content that looks great, just like what they are used to from TV. This is important because with Internet connected TVs coming to your living room, people will consume more and more Internet based video content on the big screen.

This means that you need to get practice in creating and editing good looking content early on. No one will watch a crappy looking video, even if the content it features is great. You need to offer both.” Follow the full article here.

As I said before, YouTube is there for all of us to use in our businesses, but success comes as much from practice and determination as it does from vision and enthusiasm. Nobody featured in this article has taken any short-cuts with regard to You Tube success.

If you are an Edupreneur, hard work comes with the territory. The difference is that those of us who persist just love the business.

Drew Badger

The first time I remember seeing Drew on video was with a class of tiny Chinese children having an outdoor lesson. This was no special effect movie clip. It was a natural, vibrant clip of little kids caught up in Drew’s intuitive, rapport- building teaching style. What struck me was his ease with children – a magic touch indeed. I’ve also been impressed by the breadth of his work, especially the creative ideas and drama involved. The video clip I’m about to show here gives a taste of his dramatics, fun, and natural style. If I were to classify his style I’d start with ‘story-telling’, because that’s what he does with his body language, drama and field-trip style videoing.

Drew is, of course, very expressive in his teaching and thinking style, so I was delighted to get this teaching on tip in the form of a quote:

“Great teaching should mirror great design. Make your lessons as intuitive as possible, and people will feel themselves learning immediately.”

“Make your lessons as intuitive as possible” – it’s true that we FEEL Drew’s videos, and it’s also true that social/emotional learning is just now being explicitly discussed in educational circles. This is the real X-factor in teaching. So, I believe, that to be natural on You Yube, you’ve got to feel it…. get into the groove, as they say.

Nina EnglishBrno

Nina has a special glow on video, and a large part of this is her interpersonal communication style, which is evident in her broacasting tip below. The camera loves her and she loves her work – a deadly combination indeed. For those of you out there who want to feel comfortable on camera, I believe that it’s an inside job. The glow is a special kind of confidence, and I think that it was very generous of Nina to give away, what I think is probably her top tip, or even ‘secret’ to presence on camera.

What stands out for me in this clip is clarity, focus and brevity. Great teaching is about clarifying the absurdly complex. Note also that Nina didn’t need any special effects for this video – all she had was a piece of paper. I know that Nina values simplicity. By watching these video clips, I hope that you, aspiring You Tubers, will also notice subtle qualities like these, and will glean your own personalised insights.

And….here’s our tip from the Video Queen..

“My number one tip: Be short, authentic and energetic. No one likes to watch long, boring videos.

Speak to the camera as if you´re speaking to a friend or your favourite student.”

Dave skype lessons

I really enjoyed watching Dave’s grammar presentation, as it’s something I’ve been teaching for years with intermediate and proficiency students. He seamlessly demonstrates the big picture of tenses with his visualisation of time frames and examples. In my opinion, this kind of big picture summary is necessary for exam revision and fluency for upper intermediate and advanced/proficency classes.

Also, many students only EVER get bits and pieces of time-frame rules in English – disjointed detail that can NEVER become fluent ‘ownership’ without seeing the ‘whole’, which is greater than the parts. It is also an example of simplicity, though it may not seem so at first. The simplicity of this is like Nina’s because he’s talking about the whole, complex tense system in the English language, yet breaking it down into bite-sized chunks of clear description.

Dave’s You Tube tip is a practical one for expanding your online presence and following:

“My top tip is add subscribe buttons on every video, and make sure you promote your videos in facebook groups and other social networks.”

It was a pleasure to take time out and watch these YouTube videos presented by my colleagues. Quite often in the rush of business and social media, we can’t fully appreciate the extent and value of what’s being shared around us. As an Edupreneur, I highly recommend these ‘time-outs’ to keep tabs on what’s going on & to keep inspiration alive & kicking.

Special thanks to my guest stars from YouTube.

And now my thoughts wander back to blogging …and all the great bloggers out there…

Next time it may have to be a blogging special:)